Gender, Stereotype Threat and Mathematics Test Scores

Ming Tsui; Xiao Xu; Venator, Edmund
December 2011
Journal of Social Sciences (15493652);2011, Vol. 7 Issue 4, p538
Academic Journal
Problem statement: Stereotype threat has repeatedly been shown to depress women's scores on difficult math tests. An attempt to replicate these findings in China found no support for the stereotype threat hypothesis. Our math test was characterized as being personally important for the student participants, an atypical condition in most stereotype threat laboratory research. Approach: To evaluate the effects of this personal demand, we conducted three experiments. Results: Experiment 1, where in Chinese students were tested with the added independent variable of test importance. Our results produced only marginally significant stereotype threat effects. Experiment 2, a replication of experiment 1, yielded completely different results, with no threat effects at all. Math-test scores were significantly higher in the threat condition for both men and women, consistent with the phenomena of stereotype lift and stereotype reactance. Experiment 3, which did not include the test-important variable, yielded no significant effects. Conclusion: Stereotype threat, in the mathematics domain, does not seem to be a problem for women in China. We discuss our results in terms of factors which moderate stereotype threat and societal differences in the U.S. and China.


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